London’s prettiest conservatories
The return of the newly restored Temperate House is a horticulturalist’s delight. It’s a grade I listed glasshouse, twice the size of Kew’s much-loved Palm House and after a major five-year renovation, opened its doors to the public again earlier this year. The intricate Victorian architecture has again been paired up with rare and wonderful plant species: more than 1,500 of them.
This well-hidden and truly calming green oasis is home to more than 2,000 species of tropical plants, as well as some exciting-looking fish. It normally only opens on selected Sundays and bank holidays, but check before you set off. Make sure to book if you fancy their afternoon tea.
The ultimate in rustic charm, complete with a real meadow on its doorstep, Petersham Nurseries is the perfect balm for the frazzled urbanite. Housed within the garden centre, the Café resembles a stately greenhouse, hung with Indian prints and pictures, and furnished with rickety tables and chairs.
Kew’s iconic Victorian glasshouse is quite the stunner. During the winter months, it’s lit up in colour for the annual Christmas at Kew light show, but it’s eye-grabbing all year round. The rainforest climate supports an impressive collection of tropical plants from some of the most threatened environments on the planet. Some are even extinct in the wild.
Canary Wharf's Crossrail station won't actually have any trains in it until December 2018, but the perks it's bringing to the area are already starting to flourish, and this one literally. The Crossrail Place roof gardens are covered almost entirely by a lattice of timber and air-filled plastic cushions which opens in the centre to allow a bit of the actual natural world in, come rain or shine.
Sun shining but it's hat-and-scarf chilly? What you need is something to let the light in and keep the cold out. This Shoreditch rooftop bar boasts a beautiful heated orangery featuring lemon, clementine, calamondin and mimosa trees, and is open daily from 10am. Stop by for all-day cocktails: hot negronis to warm you up, jugs of spritz to cool you down.
Home to various events and festivals, Kew Gardens is one of the most famous in the world. The Princess of Wales Conservatory has an impressive ten climatic zones, which means that it’s the most complicated conservatory at Kew. From cacti to ferns, orchids to titan arum (that's a really stinky plant, to you and me), this conservatory seems to have the entire world under one roof.
This colourful and nostalgia-rich collection of chocolate wrappers, royal souvenirs, toys, magazines and much more moved to a new home over winter. Its new digs include a bright, sunny cafe with glass walls overlooking a pretty garden. If the weather allows, marvel at the modern branding on your teabag at an outside table.
The 18th-century Chiswick House is a European fantasy. There’s a lot on offer at this Italian-inspired villa and gardens in west London, but the conservatory is the jewel in its crown. Why? Because it includes one of the last two remaining ‘Middlemist Red’ camellias, the rarest in the world.
Part of the fascinatingly quirky Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Horniman Conservatory is an incredible grade II listed structure. It was originally created in the nineteenth century, and more recently renovated with the help of English Heritage - now also serving as a space for performances ranging from music to film to poetry. Lovely stuff.
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